Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,
ANC Officials and NEC members,
Captains of business and industry,
Good evening, we thank you all for coming to share this very special evening with us. Tomorrow we start the third National General Council of the African National Congress. It is an important gathering given that in 2012 the organization will turn one hundred years old.
We therefore have to ensure the ANC is strong, united and focused on achieving its mission of uniting the people of this country and to create a better life for all in a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. We must also ensure that ANC policies and programmes are relevant to the needs of the country and are implemented in a manner that improves the lives of our people.
We are looking forward to a very exciting, robust and successful week as branches of the ANC engage with the issues that have been placed on the agenda for discussion. It is an important week too globally as the United Nations is hosting a high level plenary session on the Millennium Development Goals. In the year 2000 the international community committed itself to the Millennium Development Goals.
These are commitments to eradicate extreme poverty; facilitate universal primary education; attain gender equality and the empowerment of women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; reduce the burden of disease through primarily combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; protect the environment for present and future generations; and mobilize global partnerships for development by 2015.
With only five years remaining before 2015, world leaders will converge in New York from 20-22 September 2010 to review successes and agree on concrete actions to tackle the remaining challenges. South Africa has just finalized its Third Country Report in consultation with a range of stakeholders including civil society groups. The report which is to be tabled with those of other countries at the UN MDG Review High Level Plenary Meeting clearly shows that our country is on a positive trajectory to achieve the MDG targets and inspires pride and confidence in ourselves.
Of importance, is that the report also highlights areas where we are lagging behind. We have been successful in facilitating universal access to primary education, a target which we reached before 2015 deadline. This demonstrates that we are on track to achieve or even exceed this MDG target. What is more impressive with the achievement of this target is that the proportion of girls attending primary, secondary and tertiary education has improved significantly, with the participation of girls being one of the highest in the world.
We have also done well in the provision and expansion of health infrastructure and improved access to health services for all South Africans. A lot of good work is being done in this regard. Our progress on MDG 1- eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is mixed. We still have to work harder to achieve economic growth, improve access to social development programmes and generally enable people to access opportunities to make a decent living. The discussions on economic transformation and other topics tomorrow will take this debate forward.
MDG target 8 calls for concerted national action and highlights the importance of establishing partnerships for development. This is the area that needs the attention of all South Africans. We therefore appreciate your presence this evening as you have chosen to be our partner in entrenching democracy.
Your presence means you believe that our goals of building a stable, non-racial, non-sexist democracy and to unite the people of our country are good for business and are worth investing in. Funding for political parties is somehow viewed with suspicion by some commentators in this country and there should be no reason for that.
Business thrives in a stable, secure environment. Political parties such as the ANC are pivotal to the promotion of that stability and democracy in the country. As much as business would invest in building infrastructure or human resource development, investing in democracy is also healthy as it provides a stable environment in which to do business. There is therefore nothing wrong with the business sector investing in any party. However, wise business sense tells you that investing in the ANC, which is supported by more than sixty five percent of the population, is good value for your money!
We congratulate all the companies represented here for their good business sense!
Compatriots, our country recently emerged from the highly successful 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. The tournament proved to the world that the African continent is highly capable and can host an event of any size successfully. The response of the South African population was remarkable. Our beautiful rainbow flag has never been seen flying in the country in the manner that it did during the World Cup. South Africa has never had such international exposure since the release of President Nelson Mandela. We have to build on this success together, and build our country. Working together with the business community and other sectors we will be able to build on the gains of the World Cup.
On the 26th of October I will meet with business sector under the auspices of Business Unity South Africa, to discuss how we can use the World Cup legacy to grow our economy and promote sustainable development. Such partnerships with business, labour, community and other sectors augur well for our country.
Once again thank you for joining us. We look forward to working with you in building a prosperous South Africa.
Working together we can do more!
I thank you!